Diaphragms

Diaphragms

Contraceptive caps and diaphragms are barrier methods of birth control that are slightly different but work in similar ways.

A diaphragm is a shallow latex dome that fits inside a woman’s vagina. It works by covering the cervix and surrounding area and preventing sperm from passing into the uterus (womb) and fertilising the egg. It is usually used with spermicide gel that kills sperm on contact.

How effective are diaphragms?

How effective are diaphragms?

Most women can use a diaphragm however, because they work by covering the cervix, anything that prevents them from fitting properly will make them less effective. A diaphragm may not be suitable for you if:

  • you have an unusual shaped cervix
  • you can’t reach your cervix (this feels like a hard bump inside your vagina)
  • you have weak vaginal muscles (perhaps from giving birth)
  • you are allergic to latex or spermicide
  • you have a vaginal infection
  • you have multiple sexual partners

When you visit a Devon Sexual Health clinic you can chat with your doctor or nurse and they will be able to give you advice about the best form of contraception for you.

Are there any side effects?

Are there any side effects?

There are not usually any side effects associated with the diaphragm as a form of contraception. Occasionally some people may be allergic to latex or spermicide and occasionally they can cause cystitis (a bladder infection). It is really important to remember that the diaphragm cannot prevent sexually transmitted infections STIs.

Where can I get a diaphragm?

Where can I get a diaphragm?

You can get a cap or a diaphragm from your nearest Devon Sexual Health clinic. We have regular drop in clinics or to avoid waiting you can book an appointment.

What happens when you get a diaphragm fitted?

What happens when you get a diaphragm fitted?

A specially trained doctor or nurse will have a chat with you about your sexual history, your health and what will work best for you and your lifestyle. If a diaphragm is a good option for you, they will give you a quick examination to see what size you will need. They will then show you how to apply spermicide and how to fit it, so that it is in the right place and working effectively.

We will probably ask you to come back, with your diaphragm fitted, for a check-up.

Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons

  • There are no side effects
  • You only need to put it in when you are going to have sex
  • You can put it in at a convenient time before sex (more than 3 hours and you need to apply extra spermicide)
  • It’s not as effective as other forms of contraception
  • You need to learn how to use it properly
  • You need to remember / stop and fit it before having sex
  • It does not protect against STIs
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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

We have implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

Self-requested STI testing by post is available for those aged under 25- more info

We are now running an under 18’s sit and wait clinic at Exeter, Torquay, and Barnstaple for more information click here

Despite any changes made to COVID risk measures outside of NHS premises our staff, patients and visitors will be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting our clinics, including wearing a face covering. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been requested to self-isolate please do not attend the clinic.

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - from a local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info